I think nearly everyone is familiar with phpBB in some way. Either you know about it, have had a phpBB site of your own, or are a member of a site that runs it. phpbb is the most popular open source bulletin board software out there. This also means it’s the most attacked by hackers too, but I suppose that comes with the territory.
I have never tried starting a stand alone forum, but I have added forums on to existing sites. In my opinion, starting a forum is the toughest way to start a community. You get all excited about installing the software and creating forums for specific topics, but when it’s time to launch, there’s nothing but tumbleweeds rolling by your site. If you don’t already have a fairly large community of people to announce your new bulletin board to, I would strongly urge you to skip the forums and spend your time building a different kind of site. You can always add forums later on when you actually have visitors coming to your site.
The only timely experience I have with phpBB right now is at my current job. We set up an internal forum as a way to keep track of what we have accomplished on a daily basis, change control, on call issues, and updates on the status of ongoing projects. It works pretty well for most of its intended features. I’m not too good at documenting my daily work efforts because it’s too much like nurturing a site, and as you might have figured out, I tend to bounce around from idea to idea. I started off strong and then one day I just stopped posting in my personal forum and I haven’t posted since. Typical.
Anyway, I don’t want to tell you not to use this software because it’s really fun to be a forum administrator and have all that power at your disposal. All I’m saying is it’s just not much fun when you’ve created a brandy new forum and don’t have anyone to come post on it. If you are going to give it a try, it might help if you have multiple personalities so you can set up a bunch of different users and talk to yourself. At least when other visitors happen upon your site, they won’t think it’s abandoned and they will never know how truly crazy you are either.